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Notes on Friday the 13th

Illusionist

Man, I really earned my pay today.

The day's to-do list included finishing with the damn' ACA application and enrollment, with a side order of calling Anthem Maine to ask how one cancels one's insurance (for the first time in many, many years, we have another choice of health insurers in Maine, and yeah, we're going with the new guys).

First thing after breakfast, I called Anthem, which was. . .amusing if you like black humor.  Bottom line was that I had to pay a $324 buy-out to Anthem if the new insurance coverage didn't start 'til January 15.  If I just didn't pay the January bill, which is on its way to me, even now, then our health insurance would be cancelled on January 1.

That chore done, I ventured out into the very, very, VERY cold morning to hit the post office, and the gym, and to accomplish a few minor errands in town.  The plan was then to return home, call the ACA about their requirements for proving my 2013 income, enroll for an insurance plan, and, well, write.

In fact, I was on my way home when my car started to backfire, shudder, and in general act like it was going to blow up.  Got home, found Steve still there, unloaded the stuff from my car, called the garage, slipped and fell on the ice in the driveway, had a minor freak-out, and went back into town to drop off my car.

We returned home, ate lunch; I went back to my office to start with the ACA, when -- the phone rang!  My car was repaired -- a sensor and a filter had needed replacing.

Back down to town we went, gave the garage two bills, and drove home, the car behaving beautifully. . .

. . .until I crossed the river and had to stop for a red light, whereupon the car commenced again with the shuddering and shaking, turning itself off and back-firing.

Despite which, I got it home, called in the unhappy news and have a date back at the garage on Monday.

MEANWHILE, there's a blizzard bearing down on Maine, due to land Saturday-night-into-Sunday, delivering anywhere from 3 to 5 to 8 to 14 inches of snow, depending on geography.  For fun, our house on the intersection of three boundaries:  3, 8, and 14.

Also?  I have an eye doctor's appointment very early on Monday morning, in Skowhegan -- about 27 miles up the road from the Confusion Factory, well into the 14-inch zone.

Given the car, the weather, and all, I decided to be proactive, and cancel my appointment.

Sadly, I took my decision too late, calling at one minute after four, when the office closes (promptly) at 4 p.m. on Friday.  And. . .the answering machine doesn't record messages.

All that taken care of -- or not taken care of, as may be -- I was finally free to call up the Healthcare Marketplace site, where our application for health insurance has been languishing this while, because of a requirement that I "prove" my 2013 income no later than March 5, 2014, or risk losing my new health insurance.  Appended to this note was a list of documents that would be accepted as "proof."

. . .none of which even come close to being something that a freelance writer has on their person.  Or in their files.

So, I called, and had a lovely chat with a young lady, who was, indeed, very helpful.  She brainstormed ideas, like -- would my publisher write me a note stating that I did indeed work for them ("But I don't work for them."  "Oh. Right.")  Well, then, W2s. . . ("Freelance.  No W2s."  "Oh. Right.")

We finally arrived at an Approach, because The Problem is that I expect to make much less money in 2014 than I did in 2013, for the very simple reason that I will not be receiving the upfront money on seven novels and the d&a money for three of them.

So, I need to provide copies of royalty checks, and this letter, with relevant Arithmetic, notarized, explaining why my income for 2014 is (best guess) going to be Significantly Less than it was in 2013.

And I have to do this, of course, As Soon as Possible, so that the poor child who is stuck with reviewing all this stuff has time to Lose It Completely, call me on the phone and ask if I'm crazy.  At that point, if I am True and Wise, I will be able to repeat what I wrote in the letter in a sincere enough voice that they will believe me and not cancel my health insurance.

This, she suggests, will be fun.

Or not.

While I had the helpful young lady on the phone, I asked if she could make recommendations to those who are responsible for the website, and the verification process.  She said she could, and we noted that I cannot be the only freelance novelist in America.  That, in fact, lots and lots of people are artists, musicians, writers, or otherwise self-employed in ways that mean their pay is extremely irregular, and that predicting any possible income a whole year ahead is an exercise in Wishful Precognition.

But, for the moment, we have health insurance; rational insurance at a rate that's more than $250 less per month than what we've been paying for insurance that covered nothing (which was due to go UP by $125/month, starting January 1), and a deductible that would have made us bankrupt before any co-payments kicked in.

And?  I guess we'll see What Happens Next.

And now, having earned my pay, I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine and recline with my book, and perhaps a cat or two, on the couch, because I'm exhausted, and now my knee hurts, and my ankle that I sprained two years ago hurts, and the wrist and hand that I caught myself with hurt.  Sigh.  Getting old sucks.  And ice is not your friend.

Hope everybody has a good weekend!

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Mary Chamberlain
Dec. 14th, 2013 12:03 am (UTC)
Sincere sympathies on the fall ...
I'm at the stage where I hesitate to go out the door some days for fear of falling on the ice/snowpack. At least here in suburban Minnesota, I don't really have to go outside until spring - we have a grocery delivery service in this area that really works and isn't prohibitively expensive!

Stay warm, enjoy the book & wine, pet the cats, and good luck sorting out the insurance -
Mary in MN
suricattus
Dec. 14th, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
Your ACA experience is one of the reasons I am clinging like a limpet to my Freelancers' Union insurance, even though I might be able to do slightly better (or at least slightly cheaper) in the Market. All they asked was proof that I earned X amount within a six month period, and took cancelled publisher's checks as pay stubs.

Hope the ice-fall left no lingering-past-tonight ouchies.
dancinghorse
Dec. 14th, 2013 01:16 am (UTC)
Many sympathies on the fall.

I'm completely paralyzed myself over the ACA. My income is so sporadic and so varied and comes from so many tiny sources. An editing client here and a horse-boarder there--one of whom pays me in cash. And I can't Just Pick Up The Phone And Call. At least this year I had a big chunk o' moola from Audible, which is provable and and trackable and all.

I have to get moving soon, but oy to the vey. My plan at the moment is to squeeze my eyes shut and clap my hands over my ears and ride out December, then tackle it in January. Probably via some sort of in-person facilitator, which I must undertake to find.

bercilakslady
Dec. 14th, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)
That sounds like A Day. Much luck to you with the insurance situation, the car, and the pain.
martianmooncrab
Dec. 14th, 2013 01:36 am (UTC)
isnt there a way around being a freelancer when you have incorporated yourselves? That might help.
attilathepbnun
Dec. 14th, 2013 01:54 am (UTC)
*offers comforting chocolate .... and catnip*
hildy
Dec. 14th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
Oh dear. I hope the insurance works out for you. The paperwork sounds so not fun.

margotinez
Dec. 14th, 2013 06:00 am (UTC)
What a distressing day - and I thought mine was "not good". You have forced me to reconsider. On the ACA front, sounds like the bottom line is worth it, and if they don't want to accept your proofs in March, just threaten to sic your fans on them. We will all descend like locusts. Tuck up warm and cozy, and indulge in an extra glass of wine.
sunbee19
Dec. 14th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
I am so glad that someone has managed to make that misbegotten website work and obtain insurance. I am stuck in a "You don't have any user data" but "You already have an account" mess and going to paper forms, which at least don't get stuck in bad programing loops.
rolanni
Dec. 14th, 2013 05:58 pm (UTC)
I found that the ACA website Did Not Work At All in Firefox, but it worked Just Fine in Chrome. FWIW.
rnjtolch
Dec. 14th, 2013 07:31 pm (UTC)
Health and Wealth
As Bette Davis once remarked, " Getting old is not for sissies." And when your personal warranty expires,...well...pieces fail one by one. You learn the names of medical specialties that you did not even know existed. Hug your insurance to you very tightly. At least until Medicare kicks in.

Why don't agents (you have one, right?) provide the checks and earnings paperwork? It seems a service that they could provide. Even stockbrokers do that with year-end 1099s.
rolanni
Dec. 14th, 2013 08:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Health and Wealth
No, of course we get 1099s from our agent. However, we're dealing with The Gummint here. And, I have to explain particularly where the money comes from, because this is directly relevant to why we're going to have Much Less of It next year.

For instance, we're losing eight grand off the top (more or less, you know how it is) because Audible discontinued its Pay the Author a Buck program. And -- as above -- we're not going to get the upfront for seven books, or the D&A for three. D&A for one is what I'm looking at, and of course you can never predict royalties, but! For the purposes of this exercise and not exploding the head of the poor ACA Auditperson, I will assume that royalties next year will equal royalties this year.

So, anyway; I needed a new hobby.
thewol
Dec. 14th, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC)
Since we are having famous quotes, I'll ante up the Mick Jagger one, "What a drag it is getting old." I hope that your aches and pains are from bumps and bruises only, and that you have suffered no Serious Injury.Tincture of couch with topical applications of Kitteh Plasters is a time tested and sovereign remedy for those who have been slapped around by the Gravity Police. (Alas, no law is more stringent or more strictly enforced than that one.) I hear that Maine Coon (RTM) brand Kitteh Plasters are particularly efficacious. How fortunate that you have an ample supply on hand, especially in view of the impending storm. Am sending a large dollop of Good Vibes your way. Stay warm.
rolanni
Dec. 14th, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
Just seemed to have jarred All The Bones. No bruises, even, today, so the Gravity Cops let me off easy.

The cats are all excited about the coming storm; Trooper and Sprite have been running around the house like crazymad running around the house things. Gearing up for a Snow Party, is what I'm thinking...

kalimeg
Dec. 15th, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
Be sure to call the new company to make sure they have your account set up!
rolanni
Dec. 15th, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
I talked to a customer service person at the new company on Saturday, and we weren't in their system yet. It apparently takes 48-72 hours, so he was expecting to see it arrive by Wednesday. At which point, a bill would be generated and mailed to me, so we can make the first month's payment and be covered on January 1.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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